Day 1 - 13

Writing this post whilst it’s currently storming and raining in London is making me super sad that I’m not in Rome anymore, because let me tell you, I fell in love with this beautiful city. I was so excited to share all my photos (a disgusting 225 in 3 days), so I thought I’d do a photo diary and show you guys what I did in the 3 days that I was there, and then a do’s and dont’s post, sharing what I learnt, which you can read soon.

Enjoy!

|| Hotel ||

Hotel 2Hotel

\\ Hotel Twenty One //

We landed pretty late on the Saturday so we went straight to the hotel, to wake up bright and early for the next day. Our hotel was located on the Via Cola di Rienzo, and it was in a great location for us. It was walking distance for everything, but the Vatican was especially close, around a 10 minute walk. Every major tourist attraction was around 20 – 40 minutes away, so the location was perfect. The room was exactly what you need for a city break – clean and decent-sized. The staff were also really helpful, something that is very beneficial when you want locals’ knowledge.

|| Day One: ||

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Since the Vatican is closed on Sundays, we decided to visit the next thing on our to-do list for Rome: the Colosseum. On the way there, we walked past some beautiful buildings that I had to Google the names of (FYI, Rome is full of beautiful buildings and architecture that you could just stare at for days!), which was the Museo Sacrario delle Bandiere and walked up steps to another beautiful church, which after Googling was the Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli.

 When we finally reached the Colosseum, we decided to stand in the longer queue because we didn’t really trust the guided tours and they were fairly expensive for what we wanted. The queue that we stood in took around 1 hour, so if you have a lot more that you want to do during the day then I would suggest paying extra to join the other queue.

I did enjoy the Colosseum, it was a very culturally rich experience, but I am glad that I didn’t pay extra for the guided tour because everything is fairly self-explanatory. The Colosseum only took around 40 minutes for us to look around and take our pictures, so we decided to leave and check out the Forum which I loved. Unfortunately, my camera decided to play up so none of my photos from there were anywhere to be found on my memory card *boo-hiss*.

After lunch (a gorgeous diavalo pizza), we had a lot of time until the evening so we decided to go and visit the Trevi Fountain. Now, if you have seen the Lizzie McGuire movie (lets be honest, who hasn’t?), you’ll know that the Trevi is where Lizzie first claps eyes on the infamous Paolo, so it was a must to visit. I can confirm that it really is as lovely as everyone says, it was just super crowded, but according to locals it always is! I threw my coin, and made my wish, but alas no Paolo was staring at me afterwards so I guess it wasn’t meant to be!

|| Day Two: ||

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The Vatican. The first thing that was on our list and possibly the most popular tourist attraction in the whole of Rome. For this, I would definitely recommend getting a guide, because standing for around 2 hours in a queue that stretches as far as the eye can see, in the blistering heat, does not look fun. We paid around €55 and that included an English tour of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica Church. We also climbed to St Peter’s Dome, which cost us an extra €8.

It was breathtaking. If you only do one thing in Rome, I would definitely recommend doing this. You won’t regret it!

After the Vatican, we decided to walk towards the Pantheon, which was another thing on my list. This is free too, and can get quite busy at certain times of the day so be careful because it’s not ideal to queue in the middle of the busy square. It’s beautiful and somewhere that you can gather your thoughts. Be mindful that you should be quiet and respect the fact that you’re in a place of worship. You can also take photos here but I wouldn’t overdo it because of the reasons above.

We had enough time to visit the Spanish Steps as well, which was actually a really lovely place. Once we climbed up, we took a few pictures and sat down and just people-watched, which I have to admit it was one of my favourite pastimes, especially in different cities!

|| Day Three: ||

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Our flight was in the evening so after we checked out of the hotel, we left our luggage and set off exploring. I had been told numerous times about Piazza Navona, so we took the scenic route, and checked out some beautiful buildings on the way, including the Palace of Justice and Castel Sant’Angelo. Apparently you can see a beautiful view of the whole of Rome from the top of Castel Sant’Angelo which is free, so if you don’t want to climb the Dome at St Peter’s then you should definitely check it out.

Once we reached the Piazza, we picked a seat at one of the many cafes and ordered iced coffees and a beautiful croissant stuffed with ice-cream (INSANE). It is such a beautiful location and I can see why people rave about it so much. It’s great to people-watch, and there are loads of street performers so it’s very entertaining. There are also a lot of beggars and people selling toys etc, so also be mindful of that because they can become quite forceful. Pretty soon after that we made our way back to the hotel, filling up our water bottles on the way and enjoying our last few hours of beautiful Roma.

So that was my trip to Rome!

I would 100% return to Rome, it was honestly one of my favourite cities in Europe. I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Have you been to Rome? What did you think of it?

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Photo Credit: Amelia

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This post is a bit late considering I attended this event a few weeks ago now, but better late than never right?

So I attended the #bloggerswhobrunch launch event a few weeks ago.

I had said to myself that I really wanted to attend a bloggers event this year and even though it was a real push, I am glad I did it.

It was in London so I really wanted to make the effort and attend because I live and work in London so really I should have zero problems getting to and from the event.

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The location itself was stunning, it was a penthouse and the views were pretty good, even if it was a pretty dreary rainy day!

But I didn’t have the best time, I personally felt really quite lonely. I know loads of people met up beforehand but I didn’t know about that and plus I was a bit late getting to the event so I think that would’ve been pretty annoying for people to have to wait for me.

I generally felt like there were cliques, now don’t get me wrong, I love the blogging community and I have always been met with nothing but support and love, but on this occasion I didn’t really feel a part of it. It perhaps was my fault too because I didn’t know anyone and I could’ve spoken to people and made some effort, but it was a hard time because I was in a room with so many people and it was overwhelming.

I think perhaps there should’ve been more ways of interacting and getting to know people better, maybe with start-up games etc? I don’t know and I’m not criticizing, I have never organised this type of event before so I don’t doubt that it is a lot of hard work but I have to be honest and this is genuinely how I felt.

Some of things I did enjoy were the talks from LexiLife94  about YouTube and from Katherine who is a photographer. And of course I enjoyed the popcorn!

I didn’t want to write this post because I didn’t want to come across negative but I did want to post my pictures somewhere and even though I want my blog to be a positive place, I will always be true and honest to myself and my readers.

Have you ever been to a bloggers event before? Did you enjoy it?

Darren Kuppan and Danny Ashok in Guards at the Taj at the Bush Theatre. Credit Marc Brenner. (1)

Credit: Marc Brenner

As a London-based blogger and someone who works and lives in London, I think it’s so important to unwind after work and immerse yourself in the many cultural activities that London has to offer.

So I was very excited to be invited to the Bush Theatre for their production of Guards at the Taj by Rajiv Joseph.

Darren Kuppan and Danny Ashok in Guards at the Taj at the Bush Theatre. Credit Marc Brenner. (2)

Credit: Marc Brenner

Walking into the Bush Theatre, you can definitely tell it has had a makeover. The building itself is very accessible and it now has an outdoor terrace decorated with flowers, definitely one of my favourite parts of the refurb. You can imagine yourself discussing thoughts on the play you’ve just watched, glass of wine in hand, soaking in those last few minutes of the evening summer sunshine.

Anyways, back to the play.

Guards at the Taj starts off quite slowly; for some, this may be dullingly slow, but for me it was needed as a way for the main characters to involve the audience into the background of the story. The two main characters Babur (played by Darren Kuppan) and Humayan (played by Danny Ashok) are guarding the beautiful and world-famous Taj Mahal. They speak about many things (despite the fact that they are supposed to be silent), and this is where we get to see the difference of the two characters. Babur is a fun-loving, perhaps simple-minded sweet-natured person, whereas Humayan is a more serious, strong and silent character.

The story gets more serious here, when the myth of Shah Jahan cutting off the hands of 20,000 workers so that they could never recreate such beauty again, comes into the story. The two characters are employed to carry out the unthinkable actions, and the effects that it has on Darren is heartbreaking.

Danny Ashok and Darren Kuppon in Guards at the Taj at the Bush Theatre. Credit Marc Brenner.

Credit: Marc Brenner

The friendship between Darren and Danny is truly beautiful to watch and they convincingly bounce off each other. The set was astonishingly simple and it worked so well because you focus on the character and the story, which is where the true beauty lies.

Darren Kuppan and Danny Ashok in Guards at the Taj at the Bush Theatre. Credit Marc Brenner.

Credit: Marc Brenner

The lighting is also something I noticed a lot, especially in the final heart wrenching scene, perhaps it was because the set was so simple, but the orange hues of dreams contrasted with the bright lights of reality were really effective. Bright lights were also used to signify the beauty of the Taj Mahal, which I thought was used really well.

This was also the first play that I’d seen directed by Jamie Lloyd, and I was thoroughly impressed. The play itself is darker than I thought and honestly, 80 minutes wasn’t enough – I really thought I’d struggle with not going to the bathroom / checking my phone / getting hungry / getting thirsty (yes I am clearly a 5 year old), but the play completely had my attention. Big sign that I was engrossed.

Danny Ashok and Darren Kuppan in Guards at the Taj at the Bush Theatre. Credit Marc Brenner.

Credit: Marc Brenner

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the play and I didn’t read any reviews beforehand as I wanted to form my own opinions, but I was very pleasantly surprised by what I watched.

I would highly recommend going to see Guards at the Taj, it is really thought-provoking and heartwarming, with dark themes conflicted with occasional streams of lightheartedness.

Have you seen any good plays recently? I’d love some recommendations!

Guards at the Taj, at the Bush Theatre, until 20th May

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Spring has beautifully sprung in London, and even though I am most definitely an Autumn/Winter lover (more like obsessed-with), there is something really refreshing about the crisp air when the sun is shining (a rare but delightful moment) and cherry blossoms (the ultimate blogger cliche).

I read somewhere that Spring signifies rebirth and rejuvenation – not that you need a new season for a reason to start again but I think there is something really special about that.

I also wrote a similar post for Autumn and I thought it would a good idea to do it for Spring too, and also there is something super satisfying about ticking things off a list.

1. Book a spontaneous weekend trip.

I truly envy people who can book a flight the day before, I overthink and spend way too much time on TripAdvisor and end up talking myself out of it, so this season I really want to try and not think too much and just book.

First on my list is Vienna – watch this space.

2. Have a picnic.

This is probably the easiest and best way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon. Whether you make your own snacks or pop down to Tesco’s (sausage roll anyone?), all you really have to do is a pack a blanket and perhaps a frisbee and that’s your afternoon sorted! Easiest date ever!

3. Visit as many rooftop bars as possible.

I’m very lucky in the fact that I live in London and there are endless rooftop bars! I have been a few, but there are so many more on my list, and spring is the best time to try and visit because I think summer is going to be mad busy (not that I won’t visit in summer but spring is a better time to take pictures #bloggerlife).

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3. Wear a flower crown.

I blame Louise for this, she rocks flower crowns better than anyone I know and I’ve always been super jealous because I think they would look ridiculous on me. But this year I don’t care and I will be trying to make them look effortlessly cool. I’ll let you all know how it’s going but you can always follow me on Instagram if you want to be the first to see (shameless self-plug).

4. Take pictures with cherry blossoms.

Like I said before, cherry blossom pictures are probably the biggest blogger cliche, and it’s literally all I have been seeing on my Instagram timeline, but I still want to join in on the fun! Cherry blossoms are absolutely beautiful and one day I will visit Japan for their amazing season, but for now London will have to do.

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5. Do yoga outside.

I’ve recently become obsessed with yoga. I started doing it a few months ago and I love the feeling it gives you. I leave the class feeling energised and alive, super invigorating and I fully recommend it. I sometimes go to classes on the weekend or before work and as much as I love it, I would love to do yoga outside in the fresh air and (hopefully) warm sunshine. There are so many lovely parks as well, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to organise.

6. Have a garden afternoon tea party.

I love afternoon tea, I mean I think all British people do, it’s kind of in our blood. So combining a classic afternoon tea, with scones and jam and clotted cream, with the beautiful backdrop of a garden is just music to my ears. Have to admit, I’m getting super excited just thinking about it – eek!

7. Go on a bike ride in London.

I have done this before when the Santander bikes in London were Boris bikes, so a pretty long time ago! We also went to Hyde Park which I do love, but I think sometimes can be a bit too touristy so I’d love to ride bikes somewhere a little more low-key. If you have any suggestions in London, do comment below and let me know.

8. Take a cooking class.

I’ve said this before that I would love to take a cooking class. Cooking is something that I really enjoy doing – it relaxes me and I love learning new recipes, even though I rarely stick to them. I’m more of a chuck-it-all-in-one-pan-and-hope-for-the-best kind of gal! Even so, I’d love to learn some new techniques and flavour combos, so I will definitely be looking into this.

So that was my Spring Bucket List!

Do you have a bucket list? What kind of things are on it?

Skincare was something I promised myself I would work on this year and I have been sticking to this for around a month now and I have been trying really hard with it, so I thought it was about time I share it with you guys. I’m not claiming to be a skincare blogger or anything, but this is a routine that has been working for me for a while now. Also, my skincare routine is usually only at night, I only use moisturise in the morning.

*Disclaimer: As with any skin care regime, it’s important to do a test patch first. Everyone’s skin is different so do not continue if your skin does not react well.

Moisturisers

In the mornings and after a shower, I like to use Argan Oil on my skin. I find this so great for my skin, it soaks up all the moisture and leaves me skin feeling so smooth. My make up also sits really nicely. I love that you can use it everywhere, I even use it as a hair mask which I fully recommend!

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I also use the Day Cream*, it’s very soothing and light on your skin, which is really nice to have on during the day. Also, I know it’s anti-ageing but to me that is actually quite nice because it’s important to start looking after your skin from a young age. It’s also great for sensitive skin and has lasted for ages!

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It’s not pictured but I also frequently use E45 for skincare too, I really prefer it as a hand cream, especially when it comes to winter months so it’s not really applicable now as we finally have some sun in London but I thought it was worth mentioning. The only thing that frustrates me about E45 is how long is takes to absorb into the skin, but the results that I have seen on the dry patches of my skin are unreal, so I’m willing to let it slide!

Cleanser

Taking my make-up off used to be such a chore and now I literally look forward to it so much (lol I’m such a loser). I’m not one to follow the crowd, but even I have to admit that the Liz Earle Cleanse + Polish is just as good as people say it is, if not more. In fact, I may be a little obsessed. It is just the easiest way to remove my make up and leaves my skin feeling super soft. If you haven’t used it before then I fully recommend it, all you do is apply the product on your face, massage in circular motions leaving your eyes last. Then you rinse the cleanser cloth in warm water and use it to remove the polish from your face. Pat your face down with cool water and voila – make-up free skin!

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Exfoliator

After I remove my make-up, I like to exfoliate, removing the dead skin from my face using my favourite exfoliator which I’ve raved about in previous blog posts as well. It smells super fresh and lemony and always leaves my skin feeling really silky.

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Toner

I don’t know if this is the ‘right’ way to do things but this is the part of the routine that I use my toner. This is something that I have only recently been using but I actually really enjoy this part of the routine. It’s amazing how much make-up still comes off with my toner. Using my toner is how I actually know that my make-up is completely removed and my face feels totally refreshed.

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Serum

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After the toning step, I like to use a serum as well as a normal moisturiser, just because I want a deeper hydration of the skin, and a serum penetrates deeper into the skin. I still use a small amount of moisturiser because a serum doesn’t actively protect the skin against the environment like moisturisers do. This Kathleen serum is really lovely, smells like watermelons and I feel like it works quite well, but I do think it’s quite pricey for what it is. However, my usual serum [pictured above, second from left] I do feel like works better for my skin, as it is more gel-like in consistency and I feel like it sinks better into my skin. The serum is also a part of the bigger skincare collection which I adore because it includes the exfoliator and the toner.

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Eye Gel

Not sure if this really counts as skincare but I don’t use a proper eye cream for my eyes, and when I feel like my eyes need a bit of refreshing, I use this gorgeous eye gel*. I find it so cooling and relaxing. Every once in a while it is really great to use.

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Face Mask

Obviously I don’t use a face mask everyday but once every fortnight I feel like it’s one of the best things ever. It always leaves my face feeling extremely clean and refreshed. The only thing I don’t like about this mask is that it doesn’t smell great but that is because it’s a natural product without many added perfumes so that’s a good thing. I like how quickly it dries as well and you never need a lot of product so it lasts for ages.

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Lip-balm

After my skincare routine, I always apply my favourite lip-balm. This stuff is a godsend, my lips are so smooth and it also smells amazing, like cherries. It also lasts for ages and is super cheap – super recommended!

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So that is my current skincare routine!

Do you have a skincare routine? Is it similar to mine?